The Brentor Band of Hope Banner

The Brentor Band of Hope and Banner

Restoring Our Brentor Banner

Every year the Tavistock Museum tries to repair an object in its collection. This summer our Brentor village banner is being restored by textile conservators at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter. The Band-of Hope banner with its vibrant colours is the most impressive of our three religious banners but also the one most in need of professional restoration to prevent further deterioration and to repair damage.

The Band-of-Hope was a temperance movement which received popular support in the years leading up to the First World War. The village branches of this temperance movement became part of the overall social fabric in the Tavistock mining areas as the majority of Methodist chapels enthusiastically supported the temperance cause. A highlight was their pre-WW1 biennial demonstrations in Tavistock when long columns of young people walked behind their village banners in some of the longest processions ever seen in our town. It was a grand day out for the young people as the events took on a carnival like atmosphere and ended with musical entertainment. Clearly, having such a colourful and striking banner to follow on these occasions would have been a cause of great pride for the young people of Brentor.

The 2m x 1.5m Brentor Band-of-Hope banner is believed to have been made for members of the congregation of the Brentor Bible Christian Chapel in about 1900. It is an important object in terms of our mining world heritage site because it illustrates the close link between Methodist chapels and the local mining communities. As both religious and social centres the chapels did much to hold mining communities together during times of economic boom-and-bust. It is also important because the banner can be seen in the early pre-WW1 photographic records of our town which feature the demonstrations. The banner was carried by two persons holding vertical poles and hung from a horizontal rail supported between the poles. It is quite rare to have a museum object so closely linked to a local village.

Work begins on the restoration and preservation of the Brentor Banner

Local resident Martha works on the banner

After WW1 popular support for the temperance movement fell away and there was no further use of the banner. For decades it lay loosely folded at the back of a local chapel until donated to the museum by the Tavistock Methodist Circuit in 2019. Earlier this year a condition assessment was made by a textile conservator at RAMM and she identified minor structural damage, surface damage, disfigurement, chemical deterioration, biological deterioration and accretions. It is good to know that much of the work in restoring the banner has been carried out under supervision by Martha Peach, a young person from Tavistock, who is a textile conservation student at the Centre for Textile Conservation, Glasgow University.

The museum would be grateful for any donations towards the cost of this restoration.